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tv   Meet the Press  MSNBC  June 2, 2013 11:00pm-12:01am PDT

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thanks for watching. i'm john seigenthaler. this sunday, national security versus freedom of the press. the tension and the political fallout as the attorney general appears to backtrack. republicans have their sights set on attorney general eric holder. did he level with congress about whether he sought to criminalize the work of journalists? >> with regard to the potential prosecution of the press for disclosure of material, that is not something that i've been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy. >> holder reportedly regrets the treatment of the press in recent leak investigations and tries to reach out. has it worked? how should the administration balance the protection of secrets and the free flow of information. we'll ask the chairman of the house intelligence committee,
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michigan congressman mike rogers, about that. and the expected nomination of former bush administration official jim coemy as director of the fbi. also, the president back to business and tries to shake off scandal. will the irs investigations undermine work on job creation and immigration reform? with us democratic senator from new york, chuck schumer. later, our political round table. what michele bachmann's exit means for the tea party. does the president have an economic plan for the second term? and a discussion of the new study this week that shows more and more women are the primary breadwinners in american families. good sunday morning. news this weekend foreshadowing another bad week ahead for the irs. as an inspector general report is expected to reveal lavish and wasteful spending at irs
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conferences around the country. we want to start with another political distraction for the obama administration. the attorney general eric holder under fire for investigationing leaks to the news media. he pledged to reassess some of the justice department guidelines. he has now also become a political target for republicans. joining me now, former senior add va sviser to the obama re-en campaign, david axelrod. republican congresswoman from tennessee, marshablackburn. jonathan alter, republican strategist ana navarro and tom friedman. i want to get everybody's impressions of the attorney general under fire. david axelrod, my question is, is this a holder problem or is it a president obama problem at this juncture? >> i think, look, the sport, the sie civic sport of washington, d.c.,
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is -- there's a serious public policy issue underneath all of this that i think we have to resolve as a country which is there are things that you have to keep secret for the security of the people who are risking their lives out there. and for national security, how do you balance that against the public's right to know, which is a very sacred principle as well. that's a discussion we should be having. >> i think part of the discussion we have to be having is also a question of leadership. if that's what it is. there's obviously going to be a political target for holder, for republicans and the media that are going to target him, but i'm focused, too, on the president. and the idea of making no apologies and then appearing to make apologies about all of this. here was the president middle of last month when he came out -- when the seizure of the a.p. phone records first surfaced. this is what he said. >> leaks related to national security can put people at risk. they can put men and women in uniform that i've sent into the battlefield at risk. >> yet then within a week he's changing his tune. this is what he said now.
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>> i'm troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable. journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. >> tom friedman, was this a president and attorney general, do they think they overreached and alienated people normally with them, the news media? >> that's what makes this case interesting. because there was overreach maybe on both sides to some degree. red lines were crossed. clearly red lines were crossed on the department of justice in effect criminalizing reporting. at the same time, you know, you look at that fox report about north korea and other people i respect a lot, walter peyton and jack schafer made this point. you do have to scratch your head about what was the news in there that justified we had a source in the korean leadership. to me clearly the doj went too far. you saw the president, i think,
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reflecting that. i do think, i share david's view, we got to talk about this. not everything that's secret is news. what should be news is malfeasance, misbehavior, lying. not the fact we have a source in the north korean leadership. >> congresswoman, do you think the attorney general needs to resign at this point? >> i think that the attorney general has definitely lost the trust of the american people. when you are out in my district, people feel betrayed by the conduct of this administration and this attorney general. and, you know, it is an issue of leadership. just as david sets the standards and decorum for his department and his classroom, the president sets that for the administration. and people are wanting answers. they don't want excuses. they want accountability. they don't want evasion. they have lost the trust. i think it'll take a generation to rebuild trust in the federal government at this point. >> let me bring in tom brokaw who's with us from new york. special correspondent for nbc news, obviously. tom, you've talked about this. this week you've covered and
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lived through a lot of these in washington. you were struck and tom friedman just mentioned it, by something that walter pinkus wrote in the "washington post." he wrote, when will journalists take responsibility for what they do without circling the wagons and shouting that the first amendment is under attack when the first amendment advocates say rosen, meaning james rosen of fox news, was falsely characterized as a co-conspirator? they do not understand the law. when others claim this investigation is intimidating a growing number of government sources, they don't understand history. is this is a leadership issue, tom, for the administration? is this purely a press versus government issue? >> walter pinkus is one of the most serious and senior investigative reporters in washington, d.c. just that statement touched off a moot court debate on the internet. i think it's a combination of all those things. the problem with how you determine whether something is in the public's right to know when it is classified in some fashion doesn't have the law of
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physics attach toed to it. it's very subjective. everyone has a slightly different opinion. but in most cases when a news kor organization like the associated press or rosen, it begins a dialogue with the government. obviously the administration is scrambling to clean all this up. but it seems to me that on this sunday morning after last week that eric holder still is in the cross hairs here. what did he know? when did he know it? what did he do about it? that will play out this week. >> do you think this is a real olive branch to news organizations? an off the record meeting to discuss changing the guidelines for how leak investigations are pursued? >> i think the burden is on both is government and the press to work out a more clear set of guidelines, both for their exchanges with each other and then so that the public can be involved in this as well. as i said earlier, the problem always is that the first
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amendment, "a," is not unconditional. but at the same time, the burden is on the government. it can be very murky in terms of what the impact is. i talked over the weekend to a very, very senior ex-intelligence official from the united states government. and he laughed. he said, look, this administration and all prior administrations have used classified material when it's been to their political advantage. and he was astonished, by the way, that eric holder, the chief legal officer of the united states, has recused himself in the associated press case. so we still have a way to go here, david. >> do you think -- you've seen these kind of investigations before. meaning the judiciary investigation, committee investigation of the attorney general. this could be elongated. you have this morning on "the new york times" government officials talking off the record or on background about his effectiveness. does he stay in the job? >> boy, i think it's tough to see how he does at this case. it's up to the president. what we're seeing "new york times" in the today is that
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familiar washington two-step. officially getting the endorsement of people like david axelrod and the spokesman for the president. but at the same time, there's another part of that two-step that is going on in which people think it would be better if he left. it would be better for the president to get this cleaned up. he has become obviously the lightning rod for a lot of the criticism just on this panel. and certainly in republican circles. from a political point of view, one of the ways that you can measure the impact of all of this and the fairness of it, think if this had happened in the bush administration with john ashcroft as the attorney general. you know full well the democrats and the left would be going very hard after them with these issues that are in play. >> tom brokaw, thank you very much. we'll see you coming up on thursday nights this summer on the military channel. your special series of iconic moments in history called "the brokaw files." thanks very much for spending a couple minutes with us this morning. >> thanks, david. >> david, reaction to that.
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>> i think those two issues live together. i think you can at once say we have to protect these classified matters as tom said that have grave consequences and cannot be in the public domain. on the other hand, we have to find a set of rules and laws -- >> jonathan alter, can you imagine a republican president doing what this president did? i mean, they came out there and they said, no apologies. these are serious crimes. we're going to investigate them. a few days later they said, you know what? maybe we overreached here. >> i can't imagine mitt romney doing that because he wrote a whole book called "no apologies." people in that party have a policy of not apologizing. what's missing here, david, is a distinction between investigating leaks, finding out who was betraying secrets and prosecuting journalists. these are two different matters. in the past presidents have been very frustrated by leaks. ronald reagan said, i've had it up to my keister with leaks.
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this goes all the way back to the adams administration when they put in the acts. this is not a new debate. what's new and what's different is this idea of criminalizing the reporting part of it. look, in world war ii before the battle of midway, the "chicago tribune" released the u.s. battle plan. the roosevelt administration decided we're not going to prosecute the tribune for that in the middle of the war. >> who's been prosecuted -- >> i was very uncomfortable and i think it was wrong to use the term co-conspirator. that's a legal term. what journalist was prosecuted? i totally agree you. you shouldn't criminalize reporting. but the fact is no journalist was prosecuted. >> no. but if you have the fbi saying that the journalist is a, quote, co-conspirator, using that kind of language, that is starting to move down that road. >> quit comment here and move on. >> the administration went too far. >> clearly. >> i think that's very clear. i think the president recognized that a week later. but i think it'll be a shame if all this comes down to is just
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eric holder and we don't use this as a real teaching moment. >> right. >> when somebody goes too far, there also needs to be consequences. you know wh, what we saw this w was the cyag meeting. cover your ag. at the same time you see there's news media that chooses not to go. i've never been to an off the record meeting that's announced previously. it seems like an oxymoron to go d d discuss the freedom of the press in a closed door meeting. chuck schumer, welcome back. >> nice to be with you. >> let me start on this issue of the future of the attorney general. we have seen whether it's the huffington post or jonathan turley, law professor, writing in "usa today" that he should resign, senator roberts saying he should resign, tom brokaw saying this morning hard to see how he could hold on to his job with all this pressure. do you think the attorney general should keep his job? >> there have been all kinds of accusations but i haven't seen
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anything that would prevent him from continuing to do his job. let's not forget, for about two years many of our hard right colleagues spent a lot of their time on fast and furious and i'm sure there were calls for holder to step down. he continued to do his job well. then the ig exonerated him on fast and furious. so obviously if there's wrong doing, we should find out who did it. but the president has confidence in holder and i believe he's going to stay. >> and you have confidence? >> listen, yes. the -- as i said, i haven't seen a single accusation that prevents him from doing his job. >> what about whether he committed perjury in front of the house committee when he says he's never been involved in the potential prosecution of a journalist yet his own affidavit names james rosen of fox news as a co-conspirator for getting classified information. >> yeah. i don't think there's perjury. there's been no professisecutio attempted prosecution of any journalist so there can't be perjury. the warrant is a tool to get
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information. i don't think the two were contradictory. i don't think any good criminal lawyer would say there's a scintilla of evidence of perjury. >> if there is a long investigation by the judiciary ex committee into the attorney general, is that a good thing for the country? >> look, we should investigate and find out what went wrong. particularly with the irs situation. i think the other two on the media shield, we need some new laws. that's for sure. and we need an independent arbitor as your panel pointed out. it's one big mess. you cannot have the justice department be both the player and the umpire. so the bill that lindsey graham and i have proposed, where there'd be an independent arbiter, judge, to balance the two very real needs of freedom of the press and preventing leaks is the way to go. in terms of the irs -- sorry. >> this doesn't cover national security issues, does it? >> yes, it does. >> how so? >> obviously it provides more
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leeway on national security as it should than other kinds of leaks. but in three ways. first, if the administration is saying it's national security, you have an independent arbiter determine if it is. second they can determine the ambut. for instance, in the a.p. the judge could say maybe getting the phone records of four of these a.p. reporters has to do with national security. the other 16 don't. finally and maybe most importantly, it requires there be notice to the news organization. so a.p. or fox news would get notice. and could go to court and try and suppress it. >> let me can you about to the best of my recollection -- irs. new information coming out about lavish spending at these conferences. there's been a video produced of irs employees getting together preparing line dances for conferences. they're spending a lot of money on producing these kinds of videos. a lot of companies do this. we're talking about government employees. in the context of everything that's happening this has got to be the last thing the irs needs. >> absolutely. and the new director, the acting director of the irs said he would put an end to it.
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it's outrageous, any kind of wasteful spending like this must be put down, particularly at these times. >> you talk about the irs investigations and the targeted conservative groups. you lobbied the irs to look into these groups. you didn't specify conservative groups. there are those on the right who say you and others effectively did. you were really targeting conservative groups not to be given that tax exempt status. >> no, that's absolutely not true. first, our letter came a year and a half after they started targeting the tea party. so it couldn't have caused it, that's for sure. second, look what our letter says. it says form a bright line and determine how much political activity a so-called social welfare organization can do before they lose their tax exempt status. our letter is is actually the solution. i would propose that we say -- we pass legislation that more than 10% -- if more than 10% of your activity is political activity, you lose your tax exemption. if you had a bright line it
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wouldn't be up to some bureaucrat to make their own determination, perhaps wrongly based on political needs. it would be the same standard for all groups, liberal, conservative, democrat, republican. that's what we need. our letter actually the solution to the problem. >> you're obviously focused on immigration reform. you're part of the gang of eight. this is a question about the president's agenda in light of all of these scandals and controversies that the administration faces. i talked to one of boehner's top guys this week who said if senators say they can get republican votes in the senate and it's automatically going to transfer to getting votes in the house, they're wrong. it's going to be a long slog in the house as well. >> first, we're going to put imfwrags on the floor starting on june 10th. i predict it will pass the senate by july fourth. we're hoping to get 70 votes, up to 70 votes which means a lot of republicans. we're willing to entertain amendments that don't damage the core principles of the bill but improve the bill just as we did in committee. we came out of the committee very strong. our gang of eight stuck together and we picked up orrin hatch's
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vote as well. these so-called scandals have not diverted us one iota. you have on the gang of eight three of the people who have been most critical of the president on some of these other issues. for the future of america, job growth, middle class, straightening out this system. it hasn't interfered one iota. we are moving forward because we believe in a bipartisan way this is so vital for america. we'll have a good bill. congressman boehner is in a box. there are about 60 or 70 of his people who are against any immigration reform. but at the same time, he knows that the republican party will be consigned to a minority party for a generation if they're anti-immigration. my advice to him, let's see what happens in the senate bill. if we can come out of the senate with close to a majority of the republican senators and almost every democrat, that may change the equation in the house and the thinking in the house among mainstream republicans. and they may want to go for our
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bill. >> do you have a warning for republicans who want to make the irs and personal issues affecting the president the main theme of 2014? >> my warning to the republicans is look at 1998. all they did is spend their time on the impeachment of bill clinton. and for the first time the incumbent president didn't lose seats in the house. certainly there should be investigations. and of the irs, which is i think is the really serious one of these three. the others are serious, but we haven't seen wrong doing. the press shield area is a mess. and you need independent legislation as i mentioned. but if they go too far, they will lose. and the -- looking into these investigations is no substitute to focusing on the economy, jobs for the middle class. republicans are right to want to look at these things. if they emphasize it too much they're going to pay a price at the polls in 2014. more with our roundtable in
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a moment. a new study out this week that more and more women are becoming the primary breadwinners in american families. some equal pay issues with that as well. also the impact. first, we're going to talk to the house intelligence chairman mike rogers of michigan. his reaction to the leak story. the alarming report this week that chinese hackers gained access to the nation's highly classified defense system. that's coming up after this short break. can acne cleansers be tough on breakouts
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coming up here, more from our roundtable. they're still here. first, staying on the topic of national security, news this week that the president plans to nominate former bush administration jim comey as new director of the fbi. after the break, reaction from a man at one time considered to be a candidate for that job himself, former fbi agent, now chair of th
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we're back. joining me now republican congressman from michigan, chairman of the intelligence committee, mike rogers. congressman, welcome back. >> thanks for having me, david. >> let me ask you about these intelligence leaks, the news leaks and the investigations. you have been among the most outspoken saying some of the national security leaks have been very damaging to the country. in light of the a.p. story and the seizure of those telephone records. at the time the attorney general defended what he did. this is what he said last month. >> i have to say that this is among if not the most serious, it is in the top two or three most serious leaks that i've ever seen. it put the american people at risk. >> that was his defense for what
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he was doing. now they're talking about changing the guidelines and trying to offer an olive branch to the press. are you concerned that the attorney general has folded on this? >> well, listen, as a former fbi agent, certainly as the chairman of the intelligence committee, keeping classified information secret is incredibly important for our national security. however, i think that dragnet that they threw out over those a.p. reporters was more than an overreach. and it really is not very good investigative work. as a matter of fact, you normally want to target -- you narrow that list down. then you might be able to go for someone's phone records or e ma mails. but that dragnet approach i argue is a little dangerous when you talk about first amendment protections for a free press. same with the co-conspirator issue. that just defied logic to me. it almost seemed like someone wanted to get around the notion that they had the shield protection law. if you look at the law and you look at what they did, it would have been exempted from that. there's, i think, a lot of questions that need to be answered there. but at the same time, we do need
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to remember that these leaks are serious and for those folks who are leaking information that may lead to the death of sources or people who are cooperating with the united states or men and women who are serving in combat, there should be consequences for that. >> do you think that the attorney general leveled with congress, with the judiciary committee, with your colleagues, when he said that he was never involved in the potential prosecution of a journalist given that he named as a co-conspirator a journalist in the affidavit? >> certainly the timing is, i think, problematic for the attorney general. i think that has to be thoroughly investigated. i think you need to lay out exactly what the testimony was, exactly the timeline when he signed and checked off that they should move forward with going after -- naming him as a co-conspirat co-conspirator, then find out what reconciled that with his testimony. i think all of that needs to be tone. but this pattern of deception administration wide is starting to become concerning. when you look at the irs and you look at the benghazi issue and
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you look at the a.p. issue, i think the trouble here isn't even the individual specific scandals. it's this broader notion that there's a pattern of this activity. i think that's what concerns people. what you don't want to have happen is americans lose faith and trust in their institutions. that, i think, is what's at risk here. we better get this back in the box so americans can rest easy at night knowing we're working for them and not against them. >> bottom line, do you think the attorney general should keep his job? should he resign? >> yeah. i think that's going to be up to him. i think how he handles this moving forward is critically important. i've argued from the beginning they just need to lay it out on the table. americans are more forgiving if you tell the truth up front. this moti this notion that you're going to leak some things out, hold some things back, administration wide on these issues, i think has been damaging to them, certainly damaging to the public trust. i think it's going to be up to him. there should be a thorough investigation. those facts should go where they should go. include ing ifthat takes it back beyond the attorney general to make that determination. one of the thing we've got to do
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here is restore that faith and that trust. that only happens when the truth comes out and people who -- who have gone beyond the pale of the law are held accountable. >> let me ask you more broadly about national security. we're talking about in the context of leaking that kind of information. the president talking recently about the state of the war on terror and how that should be rethought as we move forward both in his administration and for future presidents. he in his speech recently declared an end to the war. susan rice, who appeared on this program in september, said al qaeda was decimated. we know there is a trove of information that was recovered when osama bin laden was killed in that compound. not all that information has been released. you've had a chance to review some of it. do you agree with the assessment that the administration has made about the strength or lack of of al qaeda? >> i think it is -- we are in a wrong direction here if we think we can pull back and let this thing go. you have over 500 schools have been closed in afghanistan.
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majority of girls schools. last week the taliban poisoned 74 girls trying to go to school. the boca haram in northern africa area have killed some 3,000 people. these are islamic extremists. that's revamping up. you have the problem in mali. in algiers. in libya. all with al qaeda extremists. in may of this year 1,000 people were killed in extremist violence in iraq. you have 90,000-plus people killed in syria over what is a growing sectarian problem, which is now becoming a regional proble problem. saying that this thing is over and we can all just rest easy and start to change the policy to try to address this i think is dangerous to our national security. i don't think it fits the facts on the ground. whatever our politics are, republican or democrat, conservative, liberal, doesn't matter when you're talking about national security. >> you want to see more of those documents released? >> we're going over the documents. again, i think the week -- first
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week of june. my committee is going over and having folks up again for a review of the documents. we should take a look at what can be released and what should be released. i think there is some value in some of that information retaining its classification for national security reasons. i don't think it's the majority of it. i think we ought to seriously give consideration to allowing more than a 17 documents that were selectively picked by the administration to be made public. i think that doesn't probably tell the whole story. >> a couple of quick ones. jim comey now is going to be announced, former bush administration official, for director of the fbi. you were once up for that job. people pushing for you. what do you think of it? >> i think it was a very safe, logical choice for him. he has a good reputation for prosecutorial work in new york. i think that's good. i was fortunate enough to have the working men and women of the fbi who were advocating for that selection. i'm humbled by that experience. the bureau is going to be a very key player moving forward. what we've already seen, the extremism and violent jihad, has
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approached the shores to the united states in ways we haven't seen before. that means that the fbi is front and center of that fight. and we've got some problems to work through. this notion of an intelligence-based investigation versus a criminal-based investigation and what that means in the confines of the law. getting this right will really mean the difference between life and death for americans. that challenge, i think, has to be met here in the months ahead. >> case in point, this florida shooting of the apparent friend of cztsarnaev, the boston bombe who was killed by authorities, shot by the fbi. should there be an investigation into the circumstances as it turned out he was unarmed after he was shot and there was talk of a scuffle there? are you concerned about this? >> absolutely. every shooting is investigated and should be investigated. we should get to the bottom of it. you know, i always -- there used to be a saying when i was in the fbi. it's better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6. you ask these individuals to go into these meetings and some of these folks are violent.
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and it's their job to come home at night as well as to enforce the law. and if they're going to make an error, i hope they do it for their families. now, that does not give them the excuse to go beyond the bounds of the law. that's what that investigation should determine. we need to make sure that it was all done in accordance to the law. again, monday morning quarterbacking, if someone appears to be violent, knowing that this individual has violent extremist ties, i think that agent has to make a decision in an absolutely fraction of a second. we all should consider that also in the course of that investigation. >> all right. chairman rogers, we're going to leave it there. more to discuss. we're out of time this morning. back to our roundtable. i want to widen some of this out. talk about politics in the president's second term. david axelrod, you wanted to make an additional point about these irs investigations. to what extent they are undermining what the president wants to do. what his big ideas here are for a second term. >> the point i want to make on the irs, you heard senator schumer say these 501-c4s, these
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are the groups the irs was looking at, should have a standard that no more than 10% of their activities be involved in politics. but someone has to make that judgment. i think there's something pe kul yar about that. the whole concept needs to be looked at. groups applying for axing exemption and to keep their donors secret. how do you decide what's political and not political? you're inviting this kind of problem. i think that ought to be looked at. in terms of the issue itself -- >> congresswoman, respond to that point. >> see, the problem with this is, they were going after the conservative groups and not after liberal groups. so there was a targeting mechanism that was built into that. and then individuals, conservative individuals that seem to be going after. it is the irs using their position for political intimidation. david, i can't imagine -- >> congresswoman, i think it was an idiotic thing to do. but i will point you to the inspector general's report that
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said it wasn't done for a political reason. they were flooded with applications. >> you know what, david, that's tough to swallow. when you're a republican it's hard to swallow that. it wasn't done for political reasons when the words chosen for target words were conservative, tea party. when you have a group that was supporting -- the 2007 group freedom watch we saw yesterday come out where donors were getting audited and targeted as well. not just the groups. >> their work -- >> it's very hard -- it's very easy for your side to say it isn't political. it's very hard for our side to accept it when we're the ones being tart geted. >> it was the inspector general -- i've said this many times. if there was somebody political involved in this it never would have happened. because it was the stupidest thing you could imagine. >> chairman camp has worked on this for two years. we've been getting anecdotal evidence for two years. you look at what lois lerner did.
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you know there had to be an agenda. 157 visits? >> let me get in here for a second. >> when bush was president, how many times did he visit them? z >> i don't think it was 157 times. >> let me get in here for a second. this is part of a bigger issue that the president faces. which is where is his agenda left in all this? i want to show something. you wrote about how to get a job this week which got incredible response. here's a poll from quinnipiac. what should be a higher priority? investigating benghazi and a.p. at 22%, people said, relatively low. the economy and unemployment was at 73%. clearly a much higher priority as you look at that poll. the president is coming under fire for losing his scope effectively in a second term to rebuild america. to usher in economic restoration. >> well, that's the tragedy for him. it's a tragedy for all of us. because we are in the middle, i would argue, david, of a huge inflection where two points i
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would make about this moment. one is that the -- the thing that sustained the american middle class for 50 years was something called high wage middle skill jobs. there is no such thing anymore as a high wage middle skill job. there's only going to be a high wage high skill job. so every decent middle class job today is actually being pulled in three directions at once. it's being pulled higher. it takes more skill to have. it's being pulled out. more software, robots, automation and people around the world can compete for it. and it's being pulled down. it's being outsourced to history, to the past, being made obsolete faster. i had an experience a couple weeks ago. i had to deal with hertz for a pretty complicated change in reservation. for the first time i did the entire transaction with hertz without any human interaction. this was a complicated interaction i had. it really made a point of that. what's been happening to blue collar jobs, that kind of pac-man of automation outsourcing and digitization is now coming after white collar jobs as well.
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this requires a huge strategic response for the country. >> jonathan alter, you write about this in "the center holds" in your new book. you write this about the president's economic legacy and how it impacts him politically. it was impossible, you write, to predict how obama's agenda would fair. fights over the debt ceiling and 100 other issues laid down the road. he would almost certainly be judged turg and after leaving off on whether the american economy finally shook off and began to thrive again. if the economy revived more quickly democrats would likely do better than expected in the 2014 mid-terms which would allow the president to make more progress on his agenda. if economic growth stalled he would be seen as more of a lame duck. how does he seem now? >> this is how presidents are judged. right now the economy seems to be moving forward. there's been some good economic news. you can imagine that if mitt romney had been elected, and this is one of the reasons the stakes were so big, david, that right now everybody would be saying, well, the economy is doing better again because we slashed taxes on the wealthy and we slashed regulation, we slashed programs for the poor. so this last election, i argue
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in the book, was hugely, pivotally important. if romney had won it would have validated the entire conservative argument for what to do about the economy. and it would have discredited things like infrastructure, which is critical for getting these folks that tom was talking about employed. and education. because the ryan plan and other things slashed funding for education, medical and scientific research that creates a lot of jobs. so what the president i think needs to do is to get back on the beam with the big things that got him re-elected. the first person -- first president re-elected twice with more than 51% of the vote since dwight eisenhower in half a century. so the point is that he has to focus on college completion. because if they don't get a college degree, they are road kill in the global economy. and he has to focus on rebuilding america and bringing
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the republican party, the party of lincoln, who is a big infrastructure man, built the railroads, teddy roosevelt, big infrastructure man, bring the republican party back to its roots, come together on a big infrastructure plan. >> ana, looking at the democrats from where you sit, you're seeing democrats who are critical of the president. saying, look, the second term is getting away from you. things you've tried, you've made a big stand on, like guns and such have not panned out. you got to get back to jobs. >> look, i think absolutely he's got to focus on jobs. and we all have to focus on jobs. the entire government has to. but we've got to walk and chew gum at the same time. we cannot look the other way when you've got things like government overreach. when you've got the criminalization of important government agencies like the irs. you just cannot look the other way. that's what makes our country great and what makes our democracy so strong. that there are checks and balances. and that we do have mechanisms to be able to detect when there are these abuses of power. if there are abuses of power going on, they need to be
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addressed. >> david, can the president, will he be seen as somebody who fixed the economy? >> i agree with everything everybody just said. i think tom's right. the challenge of our time, the president would say that if he was sitting here, how do you push back on the forces -- >> and government and their jobs. >> and so that's why he has a budget and he's pushing for early childhood education, more college entry, research and development, infrastructure, all of these things are important to do exactly what tom's talking about. and that's what -- i do think that he needs to focus on those things as the fall comes and we have this big budget debate. that is really what's at stake. >> here you have this question with michele bachmann retiring this week, the staying power of the tea party which is going to argue, that sentiment is that government cannot be the driver of all these things. >> well, and government can't be the driver, but the biggest
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impediment to jobs growth in this country right now is the implementation of obama care. the 29 1/2 hours, getting under 50 employees, health care becoming too expensive to afford. this program is too expensive to afford. it was to be $800 billion. now it's $2.6 trillion. come on. people are not hiring. when you look at the labor force participation rate, being where it was in jimmy carter's day, and you look at people coming out of college in your 18 to 24-year-old group, where you're at 50% -- i mean, 13% unemployment? you've got problems. >> let me take a break here. i want to come back. i want to check in with tom friedman about what's royaling the middle east now and what the president can do about it. i want to widen our discussion to talk about a new issue that came up this week. more and more women, obviously it's been happening for more than just this week, becoming primary breadwinners in their families. how is that impacting families around the country.
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news this sunday morning "new york times" in the, the sectarian violence that's spreading from syria throughout the middle east. 1,000 people killed in iraq in may alone. we're back with our roundtable. tom freiedman, you've been traveling through the region including turkey. it makes it very difficult to see how the united states can have a positive impact on this region. >> david, we're seeing the
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breakdown basically of almost a century old political -- back to world war i when the middle east was twdivided up into these states. it was done under -- >> i've got a copy of that. >> you can bring it up. what we're seeing now is the new do it yourself version. this will not be done by imperial powers from the top down. it will be done by the people from the bottom up. i think the issue the president is struggling with as a country is what to do about syria. i've just come from syria and yemen and turkey. and i would say, you know, what i seem to see in the debate here is no one saying what is the outcome we want? the rebels are being hurt, you know, and lord knows that resonates with me. but we've got to say what is the outcome we want? do we want to preserve a multi -- produce a multiethnic unified democratic syria? if that is the case, you don't just have to arm the opposition. once the opposition topples assad, there's two more civil wars coming. one between sunnis and alawites. then between sunnis and sunnis between secular islams.
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if you want to arm the rebels to topple this regime to produce a unified syria you're going to have to have international peace keepers on the ground. if your goal is just to bloody iran and syria, our opponents, feed the rebels arms. let them defeat hezbollah, all these bad guys. then the issue is going to have to be you're going to be ready for the breakup of syria. lastly, if you're arming the rebels just in order to create a stalemate so they'll negotiate, ultimately there's no deal assad and the rebels are going to reach that, again, won't require international peace keeping force to somehow maintain. please do not will the end without willing the means. we tried that in iraq. it didn't end well. >> it's daunting. a head snapping segue. i want to segue from that to something that is back home here. a big issue for a lot of families, something that caught our attention this week from the pew research center. look at the percentage of the mothers as the sole or primary breadwinner in the families. back in 1960 if you look at this chart, 10.8%. and now here we are in 2011.
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it's at 40.4%. ana, there's a lot of discussion within marriages now that's a bottom line discussion. about who should be working based on who's earning. >> i think that's where the discussion should be. amongst marriages. there has been an evolution in the american family. you know, i think what we have to be as a society is accepting of what couples decide to do for themselves. there are some people who want to lean in. there are some people who want to lean back and be on a rocking chair drinking a mint julep. whatever works for every couple -- >> enough about your sunday afternoon. >> when i say in my house i want to be a kept woman, the answer i get back is i want to be a kept man. that's not working. it's not working in my house. but i think it's -- what chairman rogers was just saying i think makes a very important point. he talked about what girls go through in so many other parts of the world to be able to go to school. here we encourage girls and women to reach their potential. when they do, we want to do something about it. i think we, women that work,
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need to be not judgmental of women who don't. i think men who are mister moms need to be accepted by those who are the alpha male bred wadwinn. i think it's got to be whatever folks. different folks. >> marsha, we talked about this before around this table. first of all, what is the impact of this as a data point? now we have research backing up what so many of us know, which is that this is a new reality? >> yeah. it was so interest ing. the day this came out i was doing a roundtable discussion at the middle tennessee girl scout center with 20 affinity group leaders from corporations in tennessee. and one of the things that everybody seemed to agree on was that as we go to an economy where your -- your intellectual property, your thought, all of that is geared -- we're an information economy. women excel in that area. you're going to see more women move forward as breadwinners. but it is up to companies to
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make certain that there is a level playing field and that women are not shortchanged as they try to get on that ladder to success. >> it goes beyond up to companies. i would love to see our party have many or of you. we as republicans have got to do a better job. >> in the political arena, you're exactly right. >> it will make us a much better party. >> i say we need to be the great opportunity party. >> how about pay equity loss to ensure that women are treated fairly in the workplace? >> i think that more important than that is making sure that women are recognized by those companies. i've always said i wasn't -- i didn't want to be given a job because i was a female. i wanted it because i was the most well qualified person for the job. and making certain that companies are going to move forward in that vein, that is what women want. >> what about -- >> they don't want the decisions made in washington. they want to be able to have the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions. >> jonathan, it's also a
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question of what men want. i was struck, bloomberg business week has this cover story out. working dads want family time, too. talking about lean out. it talks about younger men, certainly true in my life, in my generation, who are coming out of college. if they are. or starting on their work life. and understanding that they want things in their careers. they understand that their partner is going to want those things, too. so they look at responsibility at the home including child rearing as a total partnership. >> absolutely. you know, there's a line in that story that i think all of us have reflected on. it's an old line. that nobody -- no man in particular on his death bed says, i wish i'd spent more time at the office. >> right. >> people from both sexes want that family time. they should get that family time. marissa mayer, head of yahoo! set up a huge debate recently when she said that there should
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be less flex time, more people coming into the office. when it turned out she had child care for herself there, you had a huge national debate. but both men and women should get that flex time that technology now allows. but what i'm worried about with men is that they're not graduating from college. women now make up more than 25% of college graduates greater than men. women. i'm confusing the statistics there a little bit. >> i worry -- >> women are dominating -- >> men have -- disproportionate with the impact of the changing economy in terms of job opportunities. but as a parent i must say, i spent an awful lot of time when i was young on my career, traveling. my wife was home. my kids -- i had one sick child. three kids. and the greatest regret of my life is that i didn't apportion more time to my family in those
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early years. and you can't get that time back. so to the extent people are making those decisions differently now, i think it's a really positive thing. can acne cleansers be tough on breakouts and be good for your face? [ female announcer ] now there's new neutrogena® naturals acne cleanser. acne medicine from the wintergreen leaf treats breakouts. no parabens or harsh sulfates. for naturally clear skin. [ female announcer ] neutrogena® naturals.
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we're out of time for today. i want to thank all my guests. before you go see this week's press pass with "kite runner" author khaled hosseini. he's out with a new book. "and the mountains echoed." that's at meetthepressnbc.com. also jonathan alter's new book, "the center holds." jonathan will be sticking around for a take two conversation. that will be up on our website
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murder for hire plots caught on camera. >> she's disgraced everything. disgraced herself, her family, me, you. >> in virginia a quiet real estate agent is captured on video after asking a friend to kill his wife. >> i don't know why he didn't consider divorce instead of murder. he looks completely satisfied and completely focused that his wife needed to be eliminated. >> and in new york a wife of four hires a hit man to stage an accident involving her husband.

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